Big business could get a taste of its own medicine

Aug 23, 2023

Big businesses have used California’s powerful ballot initiative process to overturn or delay unfavorable laws. Now, they could get a taste of their own medicine.

On Friday, Asm. Chris Ward — with the support of Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas — introduced ACA 13. The constitutional amendment would require ballot measures that increase voter approval requirements to also pass by the same margin. For example, if powerful corporations wanted to require two-thirds approval for all taxes and fees, they would need to get the approval of two-thirds of all voters.

The League of California Cities today testified in support of ACA 13, along with the California Teachers Association. A broad group of local government, labor, and nonprofit organizations earlier this week publicly threw their support behind the proposal.

The constitutional amendment would make it easier to pass revenue measures dedicated to homelessness and housing, fire, public safety, and road and other critical services.

Currently, a simple majority of voters may vote to require a super-majority for future action. This framework has given disproportionate power to a small number of voters: Little more than one-third of voters can prevent laws that a majority of voters agree upon.

The status quo has worked against public interests. From 2001-18, city revenue measures with a two-thirds vote requirement had a 51% passage rate, compared to a 70% passage rate for all local revenue measures over the same period.

ACA 13 would also preserve the right of cities to place advisory questions on the ballot. If passed, ACA 13 would go to the voters for approval in March 2024. A sample letter of support is available.

For questions or more information about ACA 13, please contact Legislative Affairs Lobbyist Ben Triffo.